Helping thousands of leaders receive feedback that leads to personal growth and more effective performance

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Most of us are aware of the important role that feedback plays in the communication process. In its definition of feedback, the Oxford dictionary includes the phrases ‘information about reaction’ and ‘basis for improvement’. In other words, the information we receive when we obtain feedback from other people is valuable for improving our own performance.

Receiving regular feedback is critical in developing leadership effectiveness. As such, many progressive enterprises have established formal feedback mechanisms through which leaders are able to receive feedback from direct reports, line managers, internal and external customers, with a view to improving the quality and effectiveness of their interactions with these groups. According to Chamorro-Premuzic, ‘the ultimate measure of leader effectiveness is the performance of the leader’s team’. Essentially, leadership is recognised as a critical resource with the capacity to directly affect organisational performance and build competitive advantage.

While human resources directors are frantically researching and managing leadership assessments, many organisational leaders are silently annoyed by the fact that they must regularly be subjected to the opinion of others on their leadership capacity. Perhaps you are one such leader and, as far as you are concerned, it really shouldn’t matter what others think of you!

Let’s take a fresh look at feedback and what it constitutes.

Lothian states that feedback can be divided into two categories, namely ‘acknowledging feedback’ and ‘developmental feedback,’ which are beneficial to both the receiver as well as the giver.

While acknowledging feedback typically serves to build your esteem as a receiver, and to draw your attention to a strength or valuable expertise that can be further exploited, it benefits the giver through reinforcing desired behaviour. Let’s go back to our Oxford definition briefly: our two key phrases ‘information about reaction’ and ‘basis for improvement’ highlight the fact that feedback is essentially generated from the reaction of others.  What this means for leaders giving feedback is that there are real opportunities for both the receiver as well as the giver. The giver is essentially answering the question ‘what can I communicate to this person to get him/her to display these (desired) behaviours more often?’ There is indeed something in it for the giver and this is equally important for the receiver to grasp.

As leaders, our jobs involve connecting with and influencing others. It therefore does not necessarily matter what others think of us as this may inevitably affect our ability to inspire and influence them.

‘Developmental feedback’, on the other hand, is ideally provided to support the receiver in developing his/her own leadership effectiveness. However, similar to acknowledgement, the giver has a clear agenda in providing this form of feedback too. S/he desires to ‘correct’ behaviour that is undesired in order to meet his/her own needs within the working relationship.

Research in the field of psychology tells us that we do not fully understand the impact that we have on others. However, we are able to broaden our understanding of our impact by inviting feedback from others. But how do we initiate a feedback process?  Thornhill is one option as we provide customisable online multi-rater feedback systems with accompanying consulting and coaching assistance, which enable the sharing of feedback.

Merely soliciting and receiving feedback does not necessarily lead to positive change. Many people have well-developed mechanisms to protect themselves from feedback that they consider too threatening or unpleasant. The way in which we respond to feedback is a critical deciding factor for whether we will ever receive it again.

At Thornhill, we are still helping thousands of leaders receive feedback that leads to personal growth and more effective performance. Our 360° feedback process delivers a secure, online platform where multiple rater groups can provide meaningful feedback to leaders, in a professional way that allows for anonymity. Once feedback has been received, leaders are encouraged to actively identify three significant growth areas that they wish to further develop, and to more effectively use their strengths as valuable resources to build those areas of development identified in the report. This process can be further enhanced by the support of a Thornhill coach. In closing the loop, these goal-focused action steps support the ‘basis for improvement’ as stated by the Oxford dictionary in its definition of feedback.

For more information on 360° feedback at all levels within your organisation, please contact us:

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